, Volume 64, Issue 3-4, pp 227-249
Date: 10 Nov 2012

Radical sophiology: Fr. Sergej Bulgakov and John Milbank on Augustine

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Looking at John Milbank’s recent turn to Fr. Sergej Bulgakov, this paper argues that the theological and philosophical commitments they share are overshadowed by a deeper difference concerning the role each assigns the church in secular culture. It turns to Milbank’s roots in Augustine’s philosophy of history, which he argues could have allowed the church to overtake the pagan (which founds the secular) were it not for his distinction between the “visible” church and its deferred (eschatological) perfection. Bulgakov also criticizes Augustine’s doctrine of the church, or so he thinks. He actually misreads Augustine, accusing the bishop of holding a doctrine of the church that Milbank would have liked him to have held. This suggests that Bulgakov would not agree with Milbank’s view that the church should “enact” God’s judgment in history by opposing itself to the secular.